Citation
The Indian checkposts, Lipu Lekh, and Kalapani

Material Information

Title:
The Indian checkposts, Lipu Lekh, and Kalapani A resolution to the disputed territory along Nepal's northern boundary will come only when India and China agree to demarcate their border
Creator:
Cowan, Sam ( Author, Primary )
Place of Publication:
Kathmandu
Publisher:
The Record
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
© 2015, The Record
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
एशिया -- नेपाल -- लिपुलेख
Asie -- Népal
International relations ( SWAY )
International relations ( LCSH )
अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय सम्बन्ध ( SWAY )
Indian Army ( SWAY )
Indian National Army ( LCSH )
आज़ाद हिन्द फ़ौज ( SWAY )
भारतीय सेना ( SWAY )
Nepal-India relations ( SWAY )
India -- Foreign relations -- Nepal ( LCSH )
Nepal -- Foreign relations -- India ( LCSH )
नेपाल-भारत सम्बन्ध ( SWAY )
Genre:
Newspaper report ( SWAY )
Temporal Coverage:
20150425 - 20151214
Spatial Coverage:
Asia -- Nepal -- Lipulekh
Coordinates:
30.23408 x 81.028805

Notes

General Note:
Funded by GCRF (Global Challenges Research Fund) through AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), Grant number AH/P003648/1, as "After the Earth's Violent Sway: the tangible and intangible legacies of a natural disaster", Dr. Michael Hutt, Principal Investigator.

Record Information

Source Institution:
SOAS University of London
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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The Indian checkposts, Lipu Lekh, and Kalapani | the Record

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In his book Border Management of Nepal, Buddhi Narayan Shresdia states diat "Indian
Armed military-men of the Indian Military Check-posts, deputed on 9 June 1952 in the
northern frontier of Nepal, were put away and sent back to India by die Government of Nepal
on 20 April 1969" (259). This article examines the political and security contexts diat led to

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the deployment of these foreign soldiers and police officers on Nepali soil. It will include
detail about the checkposts given in the accounts of early foreign travelers who encountered
them in various remote places. The vexed disputes between Nepal and India over Lipu Lekh
and Kalapani will also be examined. The great scoop comes at the end.

Buddhi Narayan Shrestha's dates for the deployment and withdrawal of the checkposts need
treating with care. We can be more certain about the withdrawal timescale because of detail
given in Rishikesh Shaha's book Nepali Politics: Retrospect and Prospect. It gives extracts of
an exclusive interview that Nepal's then prime minister, Kirti Nidhi Bista, gave to the official
English language daily, The Rising Nepal, on June 25, 1969. In it he stated, no doubt at the
behest of King Mahendra, that since India had not consulted Nepal either at the time of the
1962 Sino-Indian armed conflict or during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War, the commitments
with regard to mutual security based on the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship had fallen
into disuse and by the same token were no longer binding on either party (Shaha, 130). He
expressed Nepal's resentment of the term "special relationship" and stressed that "Nepal could
not compromise its sovereignty for India's so called security." A specific demand was made for
"the immediate withdrawal both of the Indian 'wireless operators' from the checkposts on the
Nepal-China border and of the Indian Military Liaison Group." The Indian Ministry of External
Affairs initially pretended not to take notice of this interview, with a spokesman inviting a
formal communication from the Government of Nepal on the subject. Eventually after much
diplomatic sparring, during which India threatened to close the border, an agreement was
reached in September 1969 to withdraw the checkposts by August 1970. Significantly, Nepal
did not insist on scrapping the 1950 treaty.

A well-sourced and widely carried Associated Press report
(https://news.google.com/newspapers?

nid=1873&dat=19691229&id=550eAAAAIBA,J&siid = ecsEAAAAIBA,J&pe=2850.6804556&hl
= en) from Delhi, dated December 29, 1969, confirms that that the agreement to withdraw the
checkposts was generally adhered to. The report states correctly that the Indians were stunned
to get the request to remove the 17 checkposts, but that seven posts were evacuated in
December 1969 and that "the evacuation of nine remaining border watchposts" would take
place during 1970. (One checkpost may have been withdrawn earlier and although most
sources refer to 18 checkposts, it is possible that one initially planned was not deployed,
though there are some indications that at one stage the number might have gone up to 20.)

The deployment dates of the checkposts are more problematic. Buddhi Narayan Shrestha
states, 'This happened during the premiership of Matrika Prasad Koirala, beginning 9 June
1952, at 18 checkposts of the Nepalese frontier. In each of these checkposts, 20 to 40 Indian

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army personnel equipped with arms and communication equipment were deployed, together
with a few Nepali army and civilian officials. The Indian army deployment was completed in
two trips to Nepal" (51). Buddhi Narayan Shrestha gives no reference to support his statement
on the composition of the checkposts or the June 9, 1952 deployment date. He is also vague
about the specific authorization for the deployment of the checkposts, linking it simply to the
well-known letter of Sardar Patel to Nehru (http://www.vigilonline.com/index.php?
option=com_content&task=view&id= 1142&Itemid= l)of November 7, 1950. Patel was the
Indian home minister at the time. He was a charismatic and powerful character who played a
leading role in the fight for Indian independence. In 1946, at the request of Gandhi, he stood
aside to allow Nehru to be elected Congress president and hence, on August 15, 1947, to
become the first prime minister of an independent India. He died on December 15, 1950 and
knew that he was terminally ill when he wrote his impressive and comprehensive letter. It was
aimed at alerting Nehru to the new military threat facing India following the Chinese Army's
incursion into Tibet and to stress to him the need for India to take immediate wide-ranging
actions to counter it, including in Nepal.

No separate secret protocol authorized the
deployment of the checkposts, but Clause 1 of the £ £

Many years ago I asked a
retired senior Royal
Nepal Army officer
about the subject. He
simply said that the
Indians just did it and
there was nothing Nepal

could do about it.

retrospectively applied I believe, for India's

actions. Many years ago I asked a retired senior

Royal Nepal Army officer about the subject. He simply said that the Indians just did it and
there was nothing Nepal could do about it. Research indicates that this was an accurate
assessment. The prevailing political and security contexts help to explain how such a state of
affairs existed.

secret exchange of letters attached to the 1950
treaty (made public in 1959) did state that
"neither government shall tolerate any threat to
the security of the other by a foreign aggressor. To
deal with any such threat, the two governments
shall consult with each other and advise effective
counter-measures." That was a convenient cover.

In the area of politics, an agreement brokered by India in Delhi on February 8, 1951
effectively ended 104 years of Rana rule. King Tribhuvan and his family returned in triumph
from their three-month exile on February 15, 1951. The last Rana maharaja, Mohan
Shumsher, remained as prime minister of an interim administration until November 12, 1951.
Matrika Prasad Koirala of the Nepal Congress party was prime minster from November 16,
1951 until August 14, 1952, after which King Tribhuvan introduced a period of direct rule,

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which lasted until June 15, 1953 when M. P. Koirala again took over as prime minister. It is
well documented that in the build-up to this historic change, and through the years that
followed, India's influence over those running Nepal was very strong. One respected source
says: "So marked was the growth of Indian influence during this period that at times it came
close to total political and economic domination." (From People Politics and Ideology,
Democracy and Social Change in Nepal, Hoftun, Raeper and Whelpton, 27.)

The Indian ambassador from 1949 to 1952, C. P. N. Singh, played a key part in the 1950
revolution, and his meddling in the affairs of the Nepali Congress party and in the shaping of
Nepali government policy was notorious. Stories about his activities abound, but during a
recent visit to the National Archives in London I unearthed this, new to me, account of how he
saw his role and justified his actions. In a dispatch to London dated March 1, 1951, the British
ambassador reported that the previous evening he had held a reception for the new Council of
Ministers during which Prime Minister Mohan Shumsher had told a guest that he recently told
C.P.N Singh that he had information that Singh had obtained direct telephone connections to
King Tribhuvan and B. P. Koirala, the leader of the Nepali Congress party. He had asked him if
he thought that such direct contact was consistent with normal relations of a foreign
representative. C. P. N. Singh had replied that it was not consistent with normal relations of a
foreign representative, but his position as India's representative in Nepal was not normal. The
last sentence in the dispatch stated: "An Indian on friendly terms with the Congress leaders
told me yesterday that it was they who asked Nehru to appoint C. P. N. Singh as Ambassador
to Nepal in August 1949 and it was through him that funds were sent to Congress followers in
Kathmandu."

King Tribhuvan himself was very active in seeking
Indian guidance. In his annual report for 1952, the
British ambassador wrote that "the King of Nepal
was in India when the year opened and again at its
close. As also on four other occasions in between,
and this was an indication of his dependence
there." Later in the report, referring to a dip in

Tribhuvan's popularity, which had peaked when the Rana regime ended, he wrote: 'There is
also a wide suspicion that he has no deep patriotism and his frequent trips to India for rather
undignified relaxation do not help."

« King Tribhuvan himself
was very active in
seeking Indian

guidance. ^^

In Nepal: Strategy for Survival, Leo Rose sums up Nepal's willingness to accede to India's
demands in an appropriately stark way: "New Delhi's concept of Nepal's interests was
accepted almost automatically in Kathmandu, at least at the official level. Indeed, it is

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probable that some Nepali leaders tended to be over-responsive in this respect, interpreting
even casual suggestions by the Indians as advice to be acted on. . . . On a number of occasions,
the Nepal government not only tamely followed New Delhi's guidance but actually took the
initiative in seeking it. That the Indians began to take Kathmandu too much for granted and
tended to act in a rather cavalier and condescending fashion with regard to their own
prerogatives, is therefore hardly surprising" (195).

This political reality was directly linked to India's perceived security needs. In a speech to the
Indian Parliament on December 6, 1950, Nehru made the position very clear: "Now we have
had from immemorial times a magnificent frontier, that is to say the Himalayas. . . . Now so
far as the Himalayas are concerned, they lie on the other side of Nepal. . . . Therefore as much
as we appreciate the independence of Nepal, we cannot risk our own security by anything
going wrong in Nepal which either permits that barrier to be crossed or otherwise weakens
our frontier." Nehru's feelings about the Himalayas, bordering on the romantic, played a
significant role in shaping Indian policy, right up to the start of the Sino-Indian 1962 War.
These phrases, extracted from the opening lines of a speech he gave in Kathmandu on June
16, 1951, at the conclusion of his first visit, exemplify this: "Mountain-girt Nepal, daughter of
the Himalayas, young sister of India, I have come here at last. ... I am a child of the
mountains myself, the mountains of the far north. . . . The Himalayas are the guardians and
sentinels of India and Nepal . . . the fate of India and Nepal is linked closely together ... it is
particularly necessary that we hold together."

How these political and security conditions directly led to India's decision to deploy the
checkposts on the northern frontier of Nepal is well explained in a book written by B. N.
Mullik, the all-powerful head of India's Intelligence Bureau (IB), called My Years with Nehru:
The Chinese Betrayal. Early in Chapter 6, under the heading "New Security Problems," Mullik
writes that that the IB had no doubts about Chinese intentions: that it would soon militarily
overrun the whole of Tibet and close up to the borders of India. In August 1950, the IB
submitted a detailed proposal recommending the establishment of twenty-one checkposts to
guard the passes on the Indo-Tibetan frontier "from Ladakh in the north-western extremity to
the Lohit Division in the north-east." On November 3, 1950, the IB produced a long note
describing the new problems of frontier security that would result, and making comprehensive
recommendations. This is a prelude to Mullik asserting that Sardar Patel accepted these
suggestions and acted quickly by producing his long letter of November 7, 1950 to Nehru. The
letter referred to the IB note and made a number of other recommendations. Mullik
reproduces the Sardar Patel letter in full, which tells Nehru that "we have to consider what
new situation now faces us as a result of the disappearance of Tibet, as we know it, and the
expansion of China almost up to our gates." Key extracts from Sardar Patel's letter pertinent to

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"4. Let me consider the political consideration on this potentially troublesome frontier. Our
north-eastern approaches consist of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling and the tribal areas of
Assam. From the point of view of communications they are weak spots. Continuous defensive
lines do not exist. There is almost unlimited scope for infiltration. . . . Nepal has a weak
oligarchic regime based almost entirely on force; it is in conflict with a turbulent element of
the population as well as with enlightened ideas of the modern age. ... In my judgment,
therefore, the situation is one in which we cannot afford either to be complacent or to be
vacillating. We must have a clear idea of what we wish to achieve and also the methods by
which we would achieve it. Any faltering or lack of decisiveness in formulating our objectives
or in pursuing our policy to attain these objectives is bound to weaken us and increase the
threats which are so evident.

"6. It is, of course, impossible for me to be exhaustive in setting out all these problems. I am,
however, giving below some of the problems, which, in my opinion, require early solution and
round which we have to build our administrative or military policies and measures to
implement them:

[f] The political and administrative steps which we should take to strengthen our northern
and north-eastern frontiers. This would include the whole of the border, i.e. Nepal, Bhutan,
Sikkim, Darjeeling and the Tribal Territory in Assam.

[h] Improvement of our communications, road, rail, air and wireless in these areas, and with
our frontier outposts.

[i] Policing and intelligence of frontier posts."

Mullik writes that as result of this letter and the IB note, among other measures, a high-
powered committee presided over by Major-General Himmat Singhji was formed to make
recommendations "about measures that should be taken to improve administration, defence,
communications, etc. of all the frontier areas." The relevant lines for checkposts in Nepal

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appear in the last paragraph of the chapter: "Earlier when the scheme for frontier checkposts
had been accepted, we had also impressed on the Government that no security measures for
northern India could be anything near perfect unless the passes between Tibet on one side and
Bhutan and Nepal on the other were properly guarded. The working out of a scheme, so far as
Bhutan was concerned, was left to the Political Officer, Gangtok, but for one reason or the
other this did not materialise for nearly a decade. But, after consulting our Ambassador in
Nepal, a Deputy Director from the IB, Warriam Singh, was sent to Nepal and he had a very
fruitful discussion with the Maharajah, who was then the Prime Minister. The Maharajah took
some time to consider the offer made by us to assist Nepal to open checkposts on the Nepal-
Tibet frontier. These checkposts were subsequently opened and manned jointly by Indian and
Nepali staff. The number of posts was further increased and the staff expanded at the time of
the Koirala Government." (Emphasis added.)

Further helpful indications are given in Chapter 7
of Mullik's book, "The Quest for Security." The £ £

Himmat Singhji committee (also called the North
and North-East Border Defence Committee)
reported in two parts with the second part

Starting with the tone of
the Sardar Patel letter,
India's assertiveness

and determination is

containing recommendations on Ladakh and the . . . r

clear, as is the mass of
frontier regions of Himal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar ., . ..

& evidence pointing to

Pradesh, and Nepal being submitted in September Kathmandu's

1951. Mullik writes, "Actually the second part was willingness to respond

held up to receive the recommendations of another with alacrity to any

committee headed by Major-General Thorat, which suggestion from Delhi ^ ^

had been set up to assess the security needs of

Nepal and its requirements for Indian assistance—

and this latter committee submitted its report in August, 1951." Two pages later, this
committee is given another mention: "With regard to Nepal, on the basis of the Thorat
Committee's recommendations, this Committee also recommended that the Nepal government
should be persuaded to survey the frontier and passes, establish checkposts where necessary,
extend effective control to the remote areas, improve the road system and reorganise the
Nepalese army on modern lines." Mullik published his book in 1971 and his reference to
"persuading" the Nepali government may have been an attempt to avoid touching on Nepali
sensitivities. Starting with the tone of the Sardar Patel letter, India's assertiveness and
determination is clear, as is the mass of evidence pointing to Kathmandu's willingness to
respond with alacrity to any suggestion from Delhi. The point is made because another source
states that Thorat recommended that the Government of India should carry out the land
reconnaissance of 16 passes as a high priority (Mutual Security: The Case of India-Nepal,

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Sangeeta Thapliyal, 50).

This resume of Indian decision-making puts a question mark over Buddhi Narayan Shrestha's
claim that the checkposts were deployed "during the premiership of Matrika Prasad Koirala,
beginning 9 June 1952." As maharaja, Mohan Shumsher was prime minister up to February
18, 1951, and, following Tribhuvan's return from Delhi, he retained the appointment as head
of the interim Rana and Nepali Congress government up to November 16, 1951, when he was
succeeded by M. P. Koirala. Other evidence suggests that the first deployments could have
taken place as early as late 1951, and subsequent deployments took place, as Buddhi Narayan
Shrestha indicates, over a number of years.

In his book, Buddhi Narayan Shrestha gives the location of the checkposts by name and
district as follows:

Indian Military Check-posts on the Northern Frontier of Nepal (Deployed from 1952 to
1969)

Check-post

1. Tinkar Pass

2. Taklakot

3. Muchu

4. Mugugaon

5. Chharkabhot

6. Kaisang (Chhusang)

7. Thorang

8. Larkay Pass

9. Atharasaya Khola

10. Somdang

11. Rasuwagadhi

12. Tatopani (Kodari)

13. Lambagar

14. Namche (Chyalsa)

15. Chepuwa Pass

16. Olangchungola

17. Thaychammu

18. Chyangthapu

District

Darchula

Bajhang

Humla

Mugu

Dolpa

Mustang

Manang

Gorkha

Gorkha

Rasuwa

Rasuwa

Sindhupalchok

Dolakha

Solukhumbu

S ankhuwasabha

Taplejung

Taplejung

Panchthar

(Shrestha, 259)

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The name given to some of the checkposts is confusing. The one in Bajhang was located north
of Chainpur to cover the historic trade route to Taklakot over the pass at Urai Lekh. The
checkpoints were located from one to five days' walk from the frontier. Given that they were
in position throughout the year, survival was a major determinant of the exact place chosen.
For example, the Larkye Pass was covered by a detachment at Setibas, some five days walk
from the frontier. The accounts of the foreign travelers who encountered these checkposts
indicate that at different times the checkpoints were occupied by Indian Army soldiers or
Indian police officers or a mix of both. Perhaps early on it was more army with police taking
over in the later stages. A Royal Nepal Army security presence was invariably located close by.
The detachments reported by radio to a base station in the Indian embassy in Kathmandu,
which had a small police presence dedicated to the task of command and control. Initially the
police section in the embassy was headed by a superintendent of police. Over time this was
upgraded first to deputy inspector and later to inspector general rank. Most of the checkposts
were engaged in asking locals who crossed into Tibet for trade or for work to gather
information on troop deployments, road construction, and the economic state of the local
population. They also attempted to recruit locals from across the border to act as informers.
No doubt China was in the same game.

Given that India was making all the decisions on these checkposts and the passes they should
cover, Lipu Lekh's absence from the list is striking and revealing. Before plunging into such
deep waters, it is useful to follow the military principle of first assessing the ground or
geography before anything else. Google Earth is a useful guide, but so also are the blogs and
photographs of the Indian pilgrims who have followed the officially approved route (by India
and China) over Lipu Lekh to travel to Manasarovar and Kailash. This account
(http://www.bcmtouring.com/forums/threads/when-i-went-walking-to-tibet-kaiIash-
mansarovar-vatra-2011,36742/)offers a good example.

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From one pilgrim's account: "Nabhidhang, the overnight stop before crossing Lipu Lekh early the

next day." Image: @DKay/bcmtouring.com

Kalapani is first mentioned on Day 11 (or Page 8) of the blog when the pilgrims stop briefly
for a meal on their way to Nabhidhang, which is the last camp before they cross the Lipu Lekh
Pass early the next day. On Kalapani, I quote, "Also this is the first and the only time when we
cross River Kali and go on the other side. Apparently this part of land has been taken from
Nepal on lease by the Govt. At Kalapani we go through Indian emigration and while we have
breakfast our passports are stamped and returned back to us." Note also the traveler's remark,
to be elaborated on later, that "Kalapani ... is supposed to be the origin of River Kali." The
pilgrims have to get close to Lipu Lekh shortly after first light as they cannot enter Tibet until
the previous cohort of pilgrims exits, and this is complicated by Chinese time being two and
half hours ahead. On the Chinese side, four-wheel-drive vehicles can now reach vety close to
the pass and busses can be driven to within a few kilometers of it. Pilgrims therefore only have
a short distance to walk before traveling in comfort to Taklakot. The photos and the images
from Google Earth on this and other blogs are helpful in showing the trail and geographical
layout. It is worth noting, and this is particularly clear from Google Earth, that from
Nabhidhang, as the valley narrows and becomes steeper, the trail goes higher above the west
side of the river to approach Lipu Lekh. A ground reconnaissance would be needed to confirm
the exact place of the source of the river. From Nepal's point of view, this should be done

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jointly with India. But to quote from a recent article

(http://nepalforeignaffairs.com/authenticitv-of-lipulekh-border-pass/) by Buddhi Narayan
Shrestha, "Even the Joint Technical Level Nepal-India Boundary Committee, which worked for
26 years up to the end of 2007, never ventured into delineating the source of the river Kalee,
because it needs a political decision." A necessary prelude to any "political decision" would be
a decision by China and India to start demarcating their long border, and this remains a
distant prospect.

The latest public airing of the dispute over Lipu Lekh came on June 9 this year when Nepal's
parliament raised serious objections to the twenty-eighth point of a joint communique issued
after the Indian prime minister's visit to China. It stated that the two sides agreed to hold
negotiation on augmenting the list of trade and commodities, and expanding the border trade,
at the Lipu Lekh Pass. It is worth noting just how limited and restricted this trade is. The
commodities are limited to what can be carried on pack animals and, for 2015, the period
stipulated is from June 1 to October 31. For the rest of the year the pass is covered by deep
snow.

« Equal status with India
and China over Lipu
Lekh, and even for its
recognition as a tri-
junction, is now a
difficult case for Nepal
to make for a number of
reasons.

Equal status with India and China over Lipu Lekh,
and even for its recognition as a tri-junction, is
now a difficult case for Nepal to make for a
number of reasons. In contrast to official silence
from Kathmandu, India, from the date of its
independence, has assumed and acted on the basis
that the trail to Lipu Lekh fell exclusively within its
territory and that control and ownership of the
pass was a matter exclusively between it and
China. There is ample proof that China accepted
this last premise. A copy of an extract of'The Sino-

Indian Trade Agreement over Tibetan Border (1954)," dated April 29, 1954, can be found

here (http://www.mea.gov.in/bilateral-documents.htm?

dtl/7807/Agreement+on+Trade+and + Intercourse-!-with+Tibet+Region). Article IV states:
'Traders and pilgrims of both countries may travel by the following passes and route: (1)
Shipki La pass ... (6) Lipu Lekh pass." China initially insisted that the wording should be "the
Chinese Government agrees to open the following passes" and India claimed that the final
wording indicated Chinese acceptance that "the use of these six passes did not involve
ownership because they were border passes."



The 1962 Sino-India War ended trading, and much else, but during Rajiv Gandhi's visit to

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Beijing in 1988 both countries agreed to resume border trade and to sign fresh agreements to
make this possible. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on "Resumption of Border
Trade" was signed in December 1991 during Premier Li Peng's visit to New Delhi. In an effort
to strengthen border trade through the mutually agreed trading routes, India and China
farther signed a "Protocol of Entry and Exit Procedure" for border trade in July 1992. Lipu
Lekh Pass was mentioned in both these agreements as a mutually recognized border trading
point. Subsequently, both countries agreed to expand border trade in 2003 but to add the
Nathu La as an additional entry and exit point to those agreed in the December 1991 MoU.
Again, on April 11, 2005, the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, and his Indian counterpart,
Manmohan Singh, signed an agreement (http://www.mea.gov.in/bilateral-documents.htm?
dtl/65 39/Protocol+between+the + Government +of+ the +Republic+of+India + and+the+Go
vernment+of+the+Peoples+Republic+of+China+on+Modalities+for+the + Implementatio
n+of+Confide nee + Building+Me asures + in+the +Militarv+Fie ld+Along+the +Line + of+Act
u al+Co nt ro 1+in+the +1 ndia Chin a+B o rde r+ Are as j aimed at confidence-building along the
Line of Actual Control, Article V of which stated: "Both sides agree in principle to expand the
mechanism of border meeting points to include Kibithu-Damai in the Eastern Sector and
Lipulekh Pass/Qiang La in the Middle Sector. The precise locations of these border meeting
points will be decided through mutual consultations."

The cover of the May 15, 2005 issue of Nepal

The signing of this last agreement prompted
the redoubtable Sudheer Sharma to write a
long article in Nepal, dated May 15, 2005,
with the eye-catching and significant title of
"Kalapani: China's gift to India." The article
argued that the new agreement had
effectively stamped China's endorsement of
the Indian occupation of the Kalapani area
and that this was linked to China recognizing
Sikkim as part of India. An image of the front
cover of this issue of Nepal can be seen
above. The image shows Kalapani camp as it
was some years ago, the valley leading north
to Lipu Lekh and the title of Sudheer
Sharma's feature article. The text in the
bottom right hand corner is a short extract
from the April 11, 2005 agreement. This
article was published during the absolute rule
of King Gyanendra, but there is no record of

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magazine. him or his ministers uttering a single word of

protest about the agreement at the time, or
later. Part of India's case, which puts the
spotlight on China's role, is that if China saw Lipu Lekh as a tri-junction or as part of Nepal, it
would not have signed these exclusive MoUs and agreements with India.

Tri-junctions of international borders cannot be fixed when, as in this case, two of the three
countries, China and India, have not demarcated their border, nor have even agreed to do so.
What divides the two countries at present is what is called a Line of Actual Control (LAC) of
4,057 kilometers in length. The term is a misnomer. Despite the two sides having signed three
much-lauded border-related accords in 1993, 1996, and 2005, there is no mutually agreed
line of control, never mind an actual line of control. The line that exists is disputed at
numerous points. Prospects for resolution are well summed up in these lines from a recently
published book, Beijing's Power and China's Borders: "In recent years the broadening of the
Sino-Indian border talks into an all-encompassing strategic dialogue has been an unmistakable
reminder that negotiations stand deadlocked. Yet neither side wants to abandon the
apparently fruitless process." (Brahma Chellaney, "Sino-Indian Border Dispute," in Beijing's
Power and China's Borders, Elleman, Kotkin, and Schofield). Until this deadlock is broken,
there can be no progress in fixing the western tri-junction of India-Nepal-China nor the
eastern tri-junction of Nepal-China-Sikkim. Byway of another example, the exact location of
the China-Myanmar-India tri-junction also remains in dispute, despite the signing of a Sino-
Burmese Boundary Treaty on October 1, 1960. China supports Myanmar's case, but there is
general recognition between the parties that a settlement of the dispute must await a final
settlement of the Sino-Indian boundary.

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Derail of a map of Uttarkhand, India showing Lipu Lekh Pass. ©Rajiv Rawat/uttarkhand.org

How is Kalapani linked to the argument over Lipu Lekh? At the heart of the dispute over both
Lipu Lekh and Kalapani is the origin of the headwaters of the Mahakali River, as the Kali River
is known in its lower reaches. Though there was no map attached to it, there is general
agreement that the 1816 Sugauli Treaty between the British Raj and Nepal stipulated that "the
Kali river" would mark Nepal's western border. A glance at the map above, which shows a
river flowing down from Limpiya Dhura (below Lampya La), makes clear that with such a
delineation, Nepal's case for control of Lipu Lekh and all the territory immediately south of the
pass was indisputable. Maps originating after the treaty was signed confirm the acceptance of
this river as the Kali and as the international border. Nepal's claim to the Lipu Lekh pass
remains unflinchingly based on the Sugauli Treaty. It maintains that it has never concluded
any treaty with British-India or with independent India that supersedes the Sugauli Treaty.
Strictly speaking, this is correct, but successive rulers of Nepal—Rana maharajas, Shah
monarchs, and political leaders—have by their actions and inactions weakened Nepal's case.
After 1860, most British maps showthe border to be the line of the river that flows down from
Lipu Lekh. There is also an 1879 map that shows the frontier further to the east, following a

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ridge that runs down from near the Tinker Pass. Trade was a great obsession in the British
colonial mind, and presumably Britain realigned the border to gain exclusive control over
trade across the Lipu Lekh Pass and the traders using it.

As part of this shifting of the border, and to give legitimacy to it, the river flowing from Lipu
Lekh, which previously did not have a name, was designated by the British as the Kali and the
river that formerly had that name became the Kuti Yangti, as it flows down near Kuti village.
This change meant that Nepal lost some thousands of hectares of territory north of the river
running down from Limpiya Dhura. It also meant that the historic trail to Lipu Lekh now fell
exclusively on the west or British-India side of the river. One Nepal source has called this
shifting of the border and renaming of rivers as "cartographic manipulation with a sinister
motive." (Nepal-India Boundary Issue: River Kali as International Boundary, Mangal Siddhi
Manandhar and Hriday Lai Koirala.) Britain at the height of its colonial power was certainly
capable of such actions, and worse. See as one example the action of Sir Henry McMahon at
the Simla Conference of 1914, the record of which shows "responsible officials of British India
to have acted to the injury of China in conscious violation of their instructions; deliberately
misinforming their superiors in London of their actions; altering documents whose publication
had been ordered by Parliament; lying at an international conference table and deliberately
breaking a treaty between the United Kingdom and Russia." (Dr. A. P. Rubin quoted in India's
China War, Neville Maxwell, 42.) Integral to all the actions listed was the attempt by
McMahon, secretly and by sleight of hand, to shift a historic international boundary by the
stroke of a pen on a map, "by the judicious use of a little extra red ink" (The McMahon Line,
vol. 2, Alastair Lamb, 530). McMahon explained to London that his objective had been to
secure a strategic watershed boundary and with it access to the shortest trade route to Tibet.

The Rana usurpation of the power of the Shah kings started on September 14, 1846, when
Jung Bahadur Kunwar (later to change his name to Rana) massacred his rivals and quickly
moved to establish the political system that bore his adopted name. It is unclear whether this
change in the frontier was made with or without the agreement of the Rana maharaja.
Addressing an audience (http://www.mvrepublica.com/politics/storv/26354/rana-pm-had-
handed-over-lipu-lekh-to-india-mehta.html) in Kathmandu on August 13, 2015, a retired
Indian Army Major General, Ashok Mehta, asserted that the Lipu Lekh issue was resolved by
Maharaja Chandra Shumsher Rana, and that he had in his possession the map which the
maharaja handed over to the British. Chandra was the maharaja and ruling prime minister
with absolute power from June 27, 1901 until his death on November 26, 1929. Even by Rana
standards, his rule was notably repressive but he was notorious for working assiduously and
obsequiously to gain British support for his position. The map, therefore, that Ashok Mehta
claims "the Maharaja handed over" could be based on a case of British force majeure which

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Chandra was, as ever, given sufficient inducement, ready to accept. Nepal has asked the
Indian authorities to produce any reliable documents pertaining to the disputed claims, but
nothing has yet been handed over.

Whatever the sequence that led to this new border being imposed or agreed, or whatever date
it occurred, maps prepared in Nepal during the Panchayat regime are identical to the post-
1860 maps in showing the border as following the line of the river that flows down from
below Lipu Lekh. Again, this indicated an acceptance, whether consciously or not, that the
traditional trail to the pass fell exclusively on the Indian side and that the border agreed as
part of the Sugauli Treaty was no longer valid. Also unhelpful to Nepal's case is that the
China-Nepal Boundary Treaty, formally signed by King Mahendra in Beijing on October 5,
1961 makes no reference at all to Lipu Lekh. The opening lines of Article 1 state: "The
Chinese-Nepalese boundary line starts from the point where the watershed between the Kali
River and the Tinkar River meet the watershed between the tributaries of the Mapchu
(Karnali) River on the one hand and the Tinkar River on the other hand." (Emphasis added.)
This roughly corresponds to the border shown on the 1879 map and the one claimed by India
today. The Nepal government published a map in 1960 with a similar boundary line. Article 3
of the China-Nepal Boundary Agreement of March 21, 1960, required the two countries to
exchange maps and to set up a joint committee to start the process of delineation and
demarcation. Presumably the map Nepal submitted was similar to the one openly published.

Nepali sources point to continuing strong Indian
influence in Nepal's affairs during this period of > >

, .. j . . ... fc fc King Mahendra's signing

the early 1960s and resolutely maintain that no ° ° °

treaty or agreements have been concluded
between Nepal and India or British-India that
supersedes the Sugauli Treaty as regards Nepal's
western border. However, all western and eastern
borders must end at some point, north and
south. King Mahendra's signing of the 1961 treaty
seems to indicate, at the very least, an acceptance
of a northwestern junction point to the east of Lipu Lekh. Since the stated purpose of King
Mahendra's visit to China was to sign this treaty, one must assume he knew what he was
doing, and, in particular, that the boundary proposed was the outcome of the work of the joint
committee and took account of the map submitted by Nepal. The China-Nepal Boundary
Protocol of January 20, 1963 reported that the permanent boundary markers had been
established by the two parties "as numbered 1 to 79 in serial order from west to east." The
protocol had "detailed maps" attached to it, but to my knowledge these have not been

of the 1961 treaty seems
to indicate, at the very
least, an acceptance of a
northwestern ju nction
point to the east of Lipu
Lekh. J J

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published.

A farther major complication for Nepal is that India rejects the claim that the river from Lipu
Lekh is the renamed Kali River. It asserts, and claims that it has maps and diagrams to prove
it, presumably based on the 1879 map, that the river Kali begins from the junction of the river
that flows from Lipu Lekh and a stream that flows from springs in Kalapani. Hence, the earlier
quote from the Indian pilgrim that "Kalapani... is supposed to be the origin of River Kali."
Nepali sources are united in claiming that the stream from within Kalapani camp originates
from a manmade pond and that the channel connecting it to the river from Lipu Lekh has
been artificially created. Sudheer Sharma strongly and very graphically spelled out this
argument in an article in a July 1998 issue of Mulyankan, which was reproduced in the June
8, 2015 issue of Esamata llittD://esamata.com/nD/2015/^HmiH)-T^-T-^^-m^/;). The
translated title is: "Kalapani: Why and how has India encroached upon the border?"

A working translation of the relevant lines is: "India dug an artificial spring for the Kali (river)
at the artificial Kalapani to give 'legitimacy'to its encroachment. There they collected the
water which flows from the mountains into a small pond; a channel connects this to the
Lipukhola (Lipu river). They have made the laughable claim that this very pond is the source
of the Kali."

Pillar No 1 at Tinker Pass, seen from the Nepal side looking north into Tibet. Image: SubhakMahato

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The date on which this Kalapani stream first appeared on maps is disputed, but, whatever the
maps show or do not show, the ground reality is that Indian security forces occupy the area of
Kalapani to the east of the river, which traditionally has been regarded as the Nepali side.
What is the value of doing so? There is evidence that the Indians first used Kalapani simply
because it was the only piece of flat land in the area to establish a rudimentary camp to cover
the approach to Lipu Lekh. At a later stage they must have come to realize that under the
complexities of Riparian water rights their claim to control the headwaters of the Mahakali
River would be strengthened by their occupation of Kalapani. At the military and security
level, answers can only be speculative, but presumably the thinking is that an Indian security
presence there helps to balance the Chinese security force presence in Taklakot just a short
distance away over Lipu Lekh. There may also be an intelligence advantage. It is clear from
the photos of the Indian pilgrims that they are under strict orders not to take photos of the
main buildings and installations on the site.

There is one other significant consequence of India's occupation of Kalapani. As the map
shows, India has used its argument on the origin of the Kali river, and its occupation of the
site, to claim a frontier line which corresponds to the 1879 map, and the 1960 Nepal map, in
following a ridge line ("Kali river watershed" on map) that runs from just south of Kalapani to
a point slightly to the west of Tinker Pass, which is about 5 kilometers east, southeast of Lipu
Lekh. Tinker Pass is the location of Pillar Number 1 of 79 marking the Sino-Nepal Border.
Nepal maintains that the tri-junction should be at Lipu Lekh, where Pillar Number 0 should be
placed. However, for the present, the reality is that the India-Nepal-China tri-junction is de
facto just to the west of Border Pillar Number 1. The following two screenshots from Google
Earth should make this clear.

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The top red line, which follows the river up from Kalapani to Nabhidhang toward Lipu Lekh, shows

the border that appeared in maps after the 1860s and in the Panchayat era. The lower red line,
which follows a watershed from Kalapani to a tri-junction on the main ridge to the north, indicates
India's view of where the border runs. An 1879 map shows this border, as does a map produced by

the Government of Nepal in 1960.

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This shows in more derail where India considers the India-Nepal-China tri-junction should be, just to
the west of the Tinker Pass. Lipu Lekh is 5 kilometers further west along the ridge.

Nepal's case for Kalapani has been badly undermined by long years of silence on the issue by
the country's leaders. Some key related questions make that clear. When did India first occupy
Kalapani? Who in Kathmandu knew what, and when? What did they do about it? Received
wisdom on the start of Indian occupation stems from the views of Bhuddi Narayan Shrestha,
which have been endlessly repeated in just about every article written on the subject. His June
27, 2015 article, referred to earlier, restates his view:

"If we have a look on the history of Sino-Indian border dispute, there was a brief but fierce
fighting border war from October 20 to November 21, 1962. During the border war, in the
Western sector, the Chinese forces marched up to the borderline shown in the Chinese maps
dating back to the Manchu Dynasty. India's option was to defend on the McMahon Line as its
northern boundary-line. After the Chinese carried out an all-out counter-attack along the
entire Sino-Indian border. So Indian forces were compelled to retard back after a heavy attack
of the Chinese army. The Indian military, when pulling back, came to realize that the Lipulekh
Pass could be a potential strategic point, given that it is located at 5,029 metres in the Nepali
frontier. They established a camp at Kalapani area. The camp, which is outfitted with
underground bunkers, is near about ten kilometers west of the Lipulekh Pass."

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No reference has ever been given to support the contention of Kalapani first being occupied by
the Indians in November 1962, and for the reasons described. However, we know
emphatically that the Chinese did not conduct "an all-out counter-attack along the entire Sino-
Indian border." The fighting was confined to the western and eastern sectors (Aksai Chin and
Arunachal Pradesh) with the central sector, including north of Lipu Lekh, seeing very little
action. Soldiers from both sides would have been deployed near the border in this sector but
very few shots, if any, were fired. Toward the end of November, snow would have been falling
on Lipu Lekh and any Indian Army soldiers in observation posts there would have pulled back
a short distance down the valley, almost certainly to prepared winter accommodation in
Kalapani as there is a weight of evidence that Indian security force personnel occupied this flat
and sheltered spot well before 1962. For example: "Official sources in India claim that the
administrative and revenue records dating back to 1830s (available with the UP state
government), show that Kalapani area has traditionally been administered as part of
Pithoragarh district. A State Police post was established by the state government at the now
disputed site in 1956 and operated from here till 1979. Since 1979, the Indo-Tibetan Border
Police (rTBP) have been manning a post for surveillance over the area." More
information here (http://www.ipcs.org/article/nepal/kalapani-a-bone-of-contention-between-
india-and-nepal-422.html).

An earlier date than November 1962 is also confirmed by Nepali sources. An article
(http://www.annapurnapost.com/News.aspx/storv/15950) in the Annapurna Post dated
August 5, 2015, written by the journalist Syam Bhatta, stated that "though it is commonly
accepted that the Indian Army encroached upon Kalapani in 1962 at the time of the India-
China war, an elected member of the National Panchayat from Byas, Bahadur Singh Aitwal,
says that Indian security forces were present in Kalapani from 1959. Aitawal also says that he
formally informed the government about this border encroachment in 1974/1975 (BS
2031)." (Note: Byas is a Village Development Committee in Northern Darchula. Bahadur
Singh Aitwal was appointed as assistant minister on July 16, 1973, in the wake of Kirti Nidhi
Bista's resignation as prime minister.)

Sudheer Sharma's Nepal article from May 15, 2005, referred to earlier, states: "While
conducting the border survey with China four decades ago the Nepalese side had already
found out about the presence of an Indian platoon in Kalapani. In Asar month of 2056 B.S
[June-July 1999], Retired Major Shambhu Sumshere Jung Bahadur Rana of the Royal
Nepalese Army, who had also worked under the Border Commission, revealed in public that,
'In the year 2018 B.S [1961/1962] itself, the Indian army were stationed in Kalapani.'" (Note:
2018 B.S. ended on April 12, 1962, which is seven months before the 1962 war started.) The
article also addresses the key question:

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"Why was the Indian army's presence in Kalapani

so grossly overlooked? When Budhabar (Shrawan f f

^^ n , fc fc I asked the King about

13, 2055 - 1998), a weekly newspaper, posed this °

question to Rishikesh Shah, he said, 'During that
time King Mahendra was there. Yes, I was in the
Council of Ministers, but I was not the foreign
minister. I asked the King about this, but he told
me that this was not a matter concerning me or my
ministry, so I should shut up. As far as I
understand, during that time King Mahendra's
thinking was that India should not be annoyed in
any way.'. . . After the Border Administration
Office had been set up below Kalapani at Changru
in the year 2034 BS [1977], the office used to send
reports and information about it to Kathmandu every year. The District Administration Office
used to inform the Home Ministry about it in a timely way but people at the top did not show
much interest in it. This issue remained a topic not to be discussed during the entire
Panchayat era." (Note: Rishikesh Shah was finance minister from December 1960 to August
1962 at which point, for just two months, he became foreign minister. He retained a status
equivalent to ministerial rank for another year.)

Sudheer Sharma's July 1998 article in Mulyankan dates Rishikesh Shah's interaction with
Mahendra to veiy shortly after the monarch's coup on December 15, 1960. A working
translation of the relevant lines is: "It has been said that King Mahendra received information
about the encroachment at Kalapani right when it happened. Rishikesh Shah, who was
Finance Minister in the government which came after the 1960 coup, said: 'We had known a
long time back that the army had been staying in Kalapani. And in my status as a minister, I
reported this matter to King Mahendra. His Majesty said in fact—India is quite angry with me,
let's not anger them further right now. Let them stay in Kalapani for now.'"

In his book, Buddhi Narayan Shrestha makes the same point on why Mahendra refused to act
on information received about Kalapani: "Nepalese officials, especially the Chief District
Officers of Darchula have reported to the center time and again mentioning that the Nepalese
territory of Kalapani has been encroached on by the Indian army men who have erected some
constructions there. But it was ignored during the Panchayat era to sustain the Panchayat
system in Nepal. At that time Nepal was not in a position to protest and oppose India for the
sake of Panchayat regime."

this, but he told me that
this was not a matter
concerning me or my
ministry, so I should
shut up. As far as I
understand, duringthat
time King Mahendra's
thinking was that India
should not be annoyed
in any way.

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King Mahendra's coup against the democratically elected government of B. P. Koirala on
December 15, 1960 showed that what ultimately mattered to him was the preservation of the
monarchy and the Shah dynasty in its absolute form. This was also demonstrated when he
authorized the signing in New Delhi of the secret Arms Supply Accord on January 30, 1965,
the details of which were finally made public in 1989. For Mahendra, national interest was
always placed below what for him was the vital interest of preserving his regime. His inaction
over Kalapani exemplifies the same order of priority despite all the talk throughout the
Panchayat period of nationalism and protecting territorial integrity. The same can be said
about his successor King Birendra who, during his period of absolute rule, never allowed his
ministers to utter a word on the subject. It was not until 1996, six years after the collapse of
the Panchayat system, that Nepal officially for the first time raised the issue of Kalapani with
India at the time of signing the Mahakali Treaty. A joint technical committee was eventually
formed in 2002 to address the issue. It would take another article to elaborate on all the
bureaucratic and political maneuvering that has gone on subsequently, all to achieve little
progress. Nepali politicians of all shades have been reluctant to press India strongly on the
issue; like their Rana and Shah predecessors, despite much talk, their actions have shown that
they also placed getting Delhi's personal recognition and support ahead of other
considerations. An article (http://www.ekantipur.com/2015/01/06/capital/nepal-aims-to-
settle-boundarv-dispute-with-india-in-4-vears/399964.html) in The Kathmandu Post of
January 6, 2015 had a heading of "Nepal aims to settle boundary dispute with India in 4
years." In the course of a few lines it said that a new field survey with India would not include
Kalapani but doing so was "now under consideration at the top bureaucratic level." We must
await developments, which are likely to be long drawn out. Any meaningful process to resolve
the issue must await India and China agreeing to start the demarcation of their long border—
and that day still looks some way ahead. Until then, India can only stall, as they have adroitly
been doing, with Nepal's covert connivance, for many years.

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The historic trading pass of UTai Lekh looking east, with Nepal and the Seti gorge on the right and
the trail into Tibet on the left. It is the site of Border Pillar Number 2. Wignall and his companions
used this pass when illegally entering Tibet in the late autumn of 1955. They were forced to return
by the same route in winter. Image: ©Jamie McGuinness/Project Himalaya

Foreign travelers end the checkposts

Sydney Wignall, 1955

The last part of this article returns to the subject of the checkposts and the accounts given by
some notable foreign travelers who stumbled upon them in various remote locations. These
throw interesting light on the checkposts and none more so than Sydney Wig nail's account of
meeting a detachment of the Indian Army in Dhuli village, north of Ghainpur in Bajhang
district, in December 1955. In 1996, Wignall published the stoiy of howthis came about in his
excellent book, Spy on the Roof of the World. The title gives the clue to the adventure. During
the planning for a small expedition to climb Nalkankar in northwest Nepal, he was
approached by an intelligence officer based in the Indian High Commission in London. This
operative persuaded Wignall to cross the border into Tibet to climb Gurla Mandhata, from the
slopes of which he would have a good view of Chinese military activity in theTaklakot area.
On October 21, 1955, Wignall, his friend John Harrop, and a young Nepali liaison officer
entered Tibet having climbed through the Seti Gorge and crossed the Urai Lekh Pass. Shortly
afterwards they were arrested by the Chinese and imprisoned inTaklakot, during which
Wignall and Harrop were subjected to some harsh interrogation. In December they were

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released by the Chinese after international concern had been expressed about their
disappearance. By far the most convenient and safest way back to safety was to cross the Lipu
Lekh Pass into India, but the Chinese, with the intention that they would not survive to tell the
story of their imprisonment, insisted that they go back over the Urai Lekh Pass and descend
the Seti Gorge, something that locals considered impossible to do in winter. The gripping
chapter describing how they managed this descent is worth the price of Wignall's book alone.
A good summary of the book is given in this Nepali Times article
(http://nepalitimes.com/news.php?id=7071#.VdD0eukcM-Q).

In the opening chapter of his book, Wignall describes how in 1936 the Austrian mountaineer
Herbert Tichy made an attempt to climb Gaurla Mandhata having ridden from Austria to India
on a Puch motorcycle and crossed the Lipu Lekh into Tibet dressed as an Indian religious
mendicant. This underlines the earlier point that sometime after 1860 the British had shifted
the border to the river that flows down from Lipu Lekh. The briefings Wignall received from
two Indian intelligence officers before departing on his adventure indicate that after
independence the new rulers in Delhi had no doubts on the matter. In London he was advised
to return over the Lipu Lekh Pass into India as the Urai Lekh Pass would be difficult after
October and the Seti Gorge was far from safe even in summer. He was told, "Whatever
happens we will have men stationed on the Indian side of the Lipu Lekh." He was also told
that moves were afoot for India to participate in forming Nepal's foreign policy and to place
Indian Army detachments at key strategic places close to the Nepal-Tibet border. In Delhi he
was told that India was getting intelligence from an agent in Taklakot "who is posing as an
Indian trader, and continually crosses and recrosses the Lipu Lekh between India and Tibet."
He was again warned about the dangers of getting trapped on the Tibetan side when the
winter snows set in, "but India was now sending army patrols into Nepal and with luck we
might have a military post established in your area before you come out of Tibet. If we do,
then that detachment will be equipped with a radio transmitter and any intelligence you can
bring out of Tibet will be sent to our HQ here in Delhi very quickly."

After surviving the descent of the gorge on his return into Nepal, Wignall describes how the
first locals they met passed on the news that since they last passed through Dhuli village on
their way into Tibet, a checkpoint with a radio had been set up staffed by two Indian Army
officers and a number of Indian Army Gorkha soldiers. Shortly afterward, the two officers
came to see them and expressed surprise that they had not returned to safety by crossing the
Lipu Lekh Pass into India. Later the three survivors arrived at the accommodation that housed
the detachment. The Indian and Nepali flags flew above the house, and, as they approached,
the Gorkha soldiers formed up and presented arms to greet them. Wignall had managed to
gather some vital intelligence, but the commanding officer told him that the detachment's

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radio had "packed up."
Malcolm Meerendonk, 1963

It is striking that David Snellgrove, who passed through Dunai and Jomsom in 1956 on his
epic journey across a number of the Tibetan-speaking areas on the northern border
(memorably recounted in his Himalayan Pilgrimage) makes no reference in his writings to
Indian checkposts. However, there are indications that he was being discreet, presumably
because the first edition of his book was published as early as 1961 when there were still
considerable national sensitivities about the existence of these foreign-manned outposts on
Nepali soil. When in Dunai he refers to having a farewell meal with "officers of the Frontier
check-post," but his silence about the checkpost in Jomsom is more revealing. He remarks that
"the people were very friendly and Professor Tucci who was here before me was very well
remembered." Tucci's second visit to Jomsom was in October 1954 when he commented
specifically: "Here there was another involuntary stop. At the guard house Indian soldiers and
Nepalese officials were stationed to keep watch on the caravans descending from the north.
They came to meet us, shook hands with us and invited us to take tea with them. . . . The
controls are very strict on both sides of the frontier; Indian soldiers to the south and Chinese
soldiers to the north keep watch." (Nepal: The Discovery of the Malla.) Tucci had also passed
through Jomsom in 1952, and in his book Journey to Mustang made no reference to Indian
soldiers.

The Mustang checkpost played a significant role in an incident that caused a major diplomatic
rift between Nepal and China. British Foreign Office files in the National Archives give
exhaustive detail on it. They record that on June 26, 1960, the radio at the checkpoint was
used to transmit a request from the raja of Mustang for 500 army reinforcements to deal with
the sudden appearance of over 1,000 Chinese troops on the border. It was not clear if an
incursion had taken place. An order was passed the next day to the Nepal Army commander
attached to the checkpost to send out an unarmed party to verify the raja's report. (The
boundary agreement signed on March 21, 1960, stipulated that no armed personnel were
permitted to operate within 20 kilometers of the border.) On the evening of June 28
information was transmitted to Kathmandu that one member of the unarmed group sent to act
on the order had been killed and another wounded after Chinese troops opened fire on the
party 300 meters inside Nepali territory. Others in the group were taken prisoner. The
incident generated a number of tough diplomatic exchanges. The two prime ministers, Zhou
Enlai and B. P. Koirala, sent personal letters to each other: the former's exuding his famous
charm; the latter's polite but impressively robust. Some details are disputed, and both sides
never budged from where they said the firing occurred, but B. P. Koirala, under pressure from

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all sides, emerged as the hero of the hour, forcing the Chinese to make a qualified apology
and paythe demanded 50,000 rupees as compensation. A future article will give a full
account of the incident and its diplomatic aftermath, but this extract of a statement by the
home minister, S. P. Upadhyaya, to the Nepal Senate on July 1, 1960 exemplifies Nepali
sensitivity on the checkposts:

"He refuted the propaganda that the reports of the Chinese attack had come from 'Indian
check-posts.' He made it 'absolutely clear once more' that there were no Indian check-posts in
Nepal; all the check-posts were Nepalese and reports of the incident came from Nepalese
check-posts in Nepalese code. There might be Indian technicians working on the radio-
communication system at the check-posts just as there were foreign technicians and experts in
other departments of the Government of Nepal." (China-South Asia Relations, 1947-1980,
vol. 2, ed. Ravindra K. Jain.)

Malcolm Meerendonk, left, with Dor Bahadur Bista and Captain Krishna Raj Pant, the householder,
in Bijeshwari, Kathmandu in 1963, prior to departing on his secret mission to Dolpo. Image: Jim

Fisher, used with permission

The best detail on checkposts at Dunai and at Jomsom, and the best from any foreign traveler
for any checkpost, comes from an unlikely source. In early 1963 Major Malcolm Meerendonk
was the senior education officer at the Training Depot, the Brigade of Gurkhas, at Sungei

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Patani in northwest Malaya. He was responsible, along with other work, for Nepali language
training of British officers joining the brigade. Apart from Nepali, he had a practical working
knowledge of both Chinese and Tibetan, and had been attached to a Nepal Army unit during
his war service in India. In 1949, he wrote a "Basic Gurkhali Grammar" (in Roman script), and
in 1959 he published a pocket book, Basic Gurkhali Dictionary, described in 2013 by James F.
Fisher, an anthropologist renowned for his work in Nepal, as "the best pocket dictionary of
Nepali."

In the summer of 1963, Meerendonk did an epic 50-day trek from Pokhara to Dolpo and back.
He published an account of this in two parts in Torch, the journal of the Royal Army
Educational Corps Association: Part 1 in the May 1964 issue and Part 2 in the November 1964
issue. He took 30 days to get from Pokhara to Shey Gompa following the route that Peter
Matthiessen describes so graphically in his book The Snow Leopard. Matthiessen did the
journey with George Schaller in 1973, so by ten years Malcolm Meerendonk was the first
foreigner to reach the heart of Dolpo by the very difficult route they followed. From Shey he
went on to Saldang, Tarap, Chharka, Jomsom, and back to Pokhara. It was clearly not done
for the good of his health, particularly as the army had already medically downgraded him.
The only clue he gave in his 1964 articles was that on his way to Saldang he met a messenger
saying that Nyima Tshering was expecting him. Meerendonk remarks that he had business
with Nyima Tshering and later recounts that he had many audiences with him in Saldang. It is
clear from the text that Meerendonk had read Snellgrove's book before going on this trek, and
would have greatly benefitted from doing so. Indeed it would have been essential reading for
him. The significance of Nyima Tsering as "the big man of Dolpo" who was the key informant
on all that had recently happened in the district and all that was currently going on, comes
out very clearly in Snellgrove. Meerendonk knew, therefore, that Nyima Tshering was the man
in Dolpo he needed to contact to get the intelligence he sought. But what information was he
seeking? An officer serving with Meerendonk at the time told me recently that on his return to
Sungei Patani, "He would only say that he had been to a very remote area, gathering
intelligence, but would not elaborate on the location or the task."

In 2011, while searching through Foreign Office files in the National Archives in London for
information on Khampas, I came across references not just to a secret report written by Major
Meerendonk as a result of his trek in 1963, but direct quotations from it. However, of the
actual report there was no sign and various Freedom of Information requests failed to locate
it. Fortunately, this secret report is now available for all to read thanks to Lieutenant Colonel
Gerry Birch, a retired Brigade of Gurkha's officer and long-time stalwart of the Britain-Nepal
Society, and currently the editor of its journal. The secret report was published in the 2012
issue (http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/iournals/bnsi/pdf/bnsi_36.pdf).

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The report is at Pages 7 to 18 and Geriy Birch's introduction to it, and the opening paragraph
of his introduction on Page 2, gives its provenance. What he does not say is that what was
handed over to him by Malcolm Meerendonk's widow was a flimsy, barely legible carbon copy
that required many hours of work to decipher and type into the form we can now read. It is
clear that the trek had high-level approval from some Nepali authorities in Kathmandu, and
most certainly from the top ranks of the Nepal Army. His mission was to find out if there had
been any Chinese Army activity in this part of the northern border following the 1962 Sino-
Indian War. It is also clear that a subsidiary task was to find out what information he could
about Khampa activity in Dolpo and Mustang. Based on what we know now, Meerendonk was
a little mixed up about "the Dalai Lama's soldiers" and the Khampas in lower Mustang, but in
the circumstances of the time this was understandable. It is a very interesting report, even
though it covers just the Dunai to Jomsom part of his 50-day walk.

From his conversations with Nyima Tsering and his grandson we learn that the checkpost at
Dunai had originally been located near Saldang, "with a company of Nepalese soldiers to deal
with Khamba bands who were making a nuisance of themselves, but that due to the intense
cold winter and to the impossibility of obtaining food in Dolpo, the post had been withdrawn
to Dunai on Nyima Tsering's offer to undertake to deal with the Khamba nuisance himself and
to render reports if necessary." Meerendonk writes: "As the acknowledged unofficial link
between the people of Dolpo and the central government, a source of info and influence for
good, Nyima Tsering is a man of unusual importance in a region where powerful foreign
influence and disturbing elements are so close at hand, while the central government is far
away and its authority or influence for the good of the people as yet nowhere apparent."

The report gives revealing detail about the checkpost at Dunai and what life was like in these
lonely outposts. Much of it is worth repeating:

"[a] The establishment was for five Indian police officers, of whom one was on leave in India
and one in India sick. Met the OSP, an elderly Sikh who was to retire in 6 weeks time and had
been four years in check posts. He was most amiable, and did all he could to make me
welcome: he was assisted by a ASP (a Brahmin) somewhat younger with similar service in
check posts, and a Brahmin wireless operator.

[b] They appeared to have nothing whatsoever to do and were entirely concerned with minor
domestic economy and efforts to provide for day to day needs, including various hobbies to

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pass the time such as running a tiny school for the local children, in a place where there were
no amenities, no rations supplied, and very little obtainable locally to supplement the meagre
stores of rice and flour brought from India by members of the post returning from leave. They
did some arrangement whereby reports of any unusual movements or events reached them
from Dolpo, where the check post used to be but was proved untenable. They sent or received
Sitreps from the Indian embassy by radio about twice per week. They received a course in
Gurkhali and Tibetan in Delhi, before they were posted to check posts.

[c] Describing themselves as there purely for the protection of the Indian officers were a
Nepalese Army naik and a section of H. R. Company. There was also a section still there
whom they had relieved, with orders from the C-in-C to remain till I had gone and to detach
men to accompany me to Dolpo should I require it. I politely declined the offer.

[d] The relations between the Indians, Nepalese soldiers and local people were the most
amicable and intimate. Nothing and no-one passed without their coming to hear of it.
Significant of this 'intelligence' system was that the OSP and officers were all waiting to greet
me a quarter of a mile from the check post when I arrived unexpectedly along the path over
which there was no observation possible from the post, and that they knew of my arrival in
Tarakot the day before. . .

[e] Owing to the unexpected number of signals from Army HQ about me before my arrival
(six days late) all were intensely intrigued about my mission and personal importance. They
turned out the Guard for my inspection on arrival. They did not however bother me with
pointed questions, though they were particularly interested to know if I was looking for
Khambas. They appeared to know nothing about Khambas themselves which was not
surprising, as it turned out, for I met none myself in the part of Dolpo with which they were
concerned. On the morning of my departure the ASP left before daybreak to meet the
Nepalese liaison officer with the Austrian Dhaulagiri Expedition; Lt Krishna Bom Rana,
somewhere in the Tarakot direction."

Much of Meerendonk's detail on the checkpost at Jomsom is also worth repeating:

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"[1] The post was manned by a complete company (No. 4 H. K. Company) under Capt Lalita
SJB Rana, an amiable simple type who slept when he had nothing better to do. His sentries
had their rifles chained to their waists. He greeted me warmly, was not in the least inquisitive
but having received advance notice from the C-in-C of my arrival took me for granted. He
arranged rations, accommodation, detailed a L/Cpl to guide me to Kaji Govindra Sher Chan's
house in Tukcha next day, and gave me dinner in his quarter. He did not take me to meet the
Indian officers who lived in separate quarters, but we all met up by chance in the evening and
chatted about nothing in particular. He told me that he had been stationed with a platoon in
Mustang last year but that there was now no-one there. He had also been detailed to take a
section and register the numbers and needs of Khamba refugees in the mountains on the way
to Tsarka off the main route, but had found the way blocked by snow and the Khambas not
co-operative. While investigating reports of Khamba raiders north of Tukcha a few months
back they had been fired on while returning to camp by Khambas armed with machine guns.
They had no further trouble and were confined to barracks pending any need for operations
against marauding Khamba gangs. Their job was to prevent the unauthorised use of the main
road by gangs going south or north. This was apparently the Nepalese Government's effort to
control Khamba activities, but as somebody was supplying them with arms and ammo it was
difficult to do more, since they were elusive and untraceable in the mountains. He had no idea
who supplied the arms or how, but thought it was easy enough to accomplish.

[2] The Indian police officers of the post were on the same establishment of five as in the case
of Duniahi, with two on leave; they were inquisitive to the point of suspiciousness, and their
OSP, a Rajput, asked me point-blank if I had been looking for Khambas, and what I had seen,
and did I know where they got their arms from? It is possible that they quite honestly did not
know, and were trying to find out if it could possibly be the British who were behind it. I was
able to tell them no more than they could see with their own eyes. No-one knew anything
about air-drops. [Note: There had been two CIA airdrops by this stage, both just north of the
border. The weapons and supplies were brought back into Mustang by prepositioned
Khampas.]

[3] The relationship between the Nepalese, the Indians and the local people was obviously
friendly though by no means as cordial and intimate as at Duniahi. The only apparent reasons
were:

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(a) The Nepalese troops had their own officer and refused to introduce me to the Indian OSP
on my arrival. They kept me waiting half an hour until their own OG was available.

(b) The local people are not Nepali but Lo-pa, Thak-pa and mutually suspicious Tibetan
groups."

George Patterson, 1964

In 1964, George Patterson and a small film
crew arrived in Kathmandu intent on getting
to Mustang. His aim was to persuade some
Khampas to carry out an armed raid into
Tibet so that he could film it to prove to the
outside world that Tibetans were still
resisting the Chinese armed invasion of their
country. He was told that it was impossible
for him to go to Mustang, but by chance he
heard about a small Khampa band in the
remote area ofTsum. He managed to obtain
a trek permit to travel from Kathmandu to
Pokhara. On reaching Arughat he headed
north up the Budhi Gandaki on the trail that
leads toward Nubri and the Tibetan border.
After passing through the small village of
Setibas he knewthat the way to Tsum broke
away from the river to head northeast up a
long and steep trail. In his book A Fool at
Forty, Patterson reveals that he knew there
was an Indian checkpost in Setibas and that
there was no way to avoid it. He wrote: "This
was our most critical test since leaving
Kathmandu. We not only had to be
unsuspected here, we had to be so lily-white that they would not think of radioing news of our
presence to Kathmandu." In the event all went well. He states: "The officer in charge was a
friendly Indian with two junior officers—one a Nepali—and a few soldiers. We stopped at the

£5

Patterson arriving in India after crossing Tibet in
mid-winter, 1950. Image: Unknown

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post for an hour, drinking tea and exchanging items of information. The officer-in-charge had
spent twelve years in the Himalayas in various check posts, and we gathered that there had
been an increase in the number of refugees crossing the border—thousands in this area alone,
according to reports reaching the check post." Characteristically, Patterson could not resist
giving his views on the utility of deploying such checkposts: "While the idea of wireless
communications from the remote snows to the capital of Kathmandu was excellent in
principle, in practice it was a feeble, almost completely useless, precaution. There were only
ten of these remote check posts in less than 800 miles of gigantic mountain, valley and
forested frontiers. What went on in the next valley was unknown to them, let alone what was
taking place five days' journey northward to the border."

Patterson did manage to persuade the small Khampa band to carry out an ambush across the
border and it was with some trepidation that he passed through Setibas again on his way back
to Kathmandu carrying the precious film of the ambush. Fortunately for him, he reached the
checkpost during a storm with torrential rain falling and was able to report that those in the
checkpost were "as unsuspicious and friendly as before." He reported that they spent some
time in the Officers' Mess "drinking tea, and we gave to the Mess a welcome gift of several
packets of cocoa. After we had signed the Registration Book we said that we must get further
down the trail that night—and the friendly officers even offered us the services of a guide."
(For a full account of Patterson's activities at this time, read my article "Raid into Tibet
(http://recordnepal.com/wire/raid-tibet).")

Duncan Forbes, 1956

In his book The Heart of Nepal, Duncan Forbes, an officer in Britain's Brigade of Gurkhas,
describes a trek he made in 1956 to the border post at Rasuwagadhi during a visit to Nepal to
attend King Mahendra's coronation. When he arrived at the village of Timure, which lies a few
kilometers from the frontier, he found "a small body of Indian police who were maintaining a
signal station, and we accepted their hospitality for the night." On returning from visiting the
frontier post he stopped overnight at Timure and had what was clearly a jovial evening with
the Indian detachment. He said: "They seemed to be very much a group of exiles in this
foreign land, being at the extremity of a long, thin line down to Kathmandu, and then to
Delhi. They said they had been long periods out of touch with their families, and without
leave. In fact the Inspector, who was shortly to be relieved, could almost have been described
in Air Force parlance as 'round the bend'. He sought to forget his exile by flying kites and
saying his prayers, and it was to the accompaniment of an incantation 'Hari-Ram-Sita-Ram-
Hanuman-Vishnu-Narayanji' that we dozed away."

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Everest Story, 1953

Another group of foreigners who encountered an Indian checkpost were members of the 1953
British Everest Expedition under the leadership of Colonel John Hunt. In his book The Ascent
of Everest, he writes that when the team arrived in Namche, "We were surprised to find a
small wireless station manned by Indian Government officials. Characteristic of the kindness
of the Indian Ambassador in Kathmandu were his instructions to Mr. Tiwari, who was in
charge of the post, that he should assist us by handling urgent messages. We had reason to be
most grateful for this concession on several occasions during our stay."

The Times newspaper was a major sponsor of the expedition, and, to the anger of many other
journalists deployed to Nepal to cover the story, it laid down very strict conditions to ensure
that it had exclusive rights to all news from Colonel Hunt and his team. A journalist from The
Times, James Morris, was embedded with the expedition as a Special Correspondent. In 1972,
she changed from living as male to living as female and became Jan Morris. She has earned a
well-deserved reputation as an outstanding travel writer and historian of the British Empire.
In 1958 she published Coronation Everest, a very well reviewed account of her time on
Everest. It is an excellent read. This part of my article draws heavily on many details from it.

Another journalist from The Times, Don Hutchinson, was based in Kathmandu. His job was to
receive Morris's dispatches, interpret them and add to them where necessary, and to get them
safely and quickly transmitted to London from the cable office. The messages were delivered
to him by runner from the expedition's base camp. There was no shortage of foreign
journalists in Nepal who wanted to break the monopoly of The Times by using any means
necessary. It was obvious that news of a successful ascent would be the ultimate prize for any
journalist. Morris and Hutchinson gave considerable thought to how they would protect the
privileged position of The Times. It was impossible to encode complete descriptive passages,
but code words were drawn up to cover personal names, key events, places, and altitude. The
particular words selected meant that a message would read as nonsense, and obviously coded
to cover something important. The trustworthiness of the runners was achieved by paying
them well with an attractive bonus based on the number of days they took to get from base
camp to Kathmandu: typically, from six to eight. The British ambassador, Mr. Summerhayes,
readily agreed that Foreign Office secure communications to London could be used to transmit
the message announcing success or failure of the expedition.

Morris traveled with the Rear Party some ten days behind the climbing group. Major Jimmy
Roberts was in charge. The party's main job was to bring further supplies of oxygen that
would be needed higher on the mountain. On the evening of the first day's walk out of

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Kathmandu, the British defence attache drove up in a large station wagon and told Roberts
that John Hunt had sent a radio message from Namche asking him to check all the oxygen
cylinders because tests on some with the main party indicated that there might be a problem.
There was not, but this was the first time that Morris heard that there was a radio so
comparatively close to base camp. Later Roberts went ahead of the rear party to meet John
Hunt, so Morris entered Namche to be greeted by: "Good day, Mr. Morris, Major Roberts told
us to expect you, said the voice. I looked around to see an enormous bearded Sikh, in some
sort of uniform topped by a fur-lined jacket. 'Please! Come this way, Mr. Tiwari would like to
see you'. . . . We entered and climbed a flight of stairs, and there in the dark recesses of an
upstairs room was a wireless transmitter. It looked quite a powerful one, and near it was a
contraption like a stationary bicycle used to generate its electric power."

Mr. Tiwari was the Indian police officer in charge of the detachment. He explained that he
had been given instructions by the Indian embassy to transmit any urgent messages for the
expedition. He communicated with Kathmandu twice a day and invited Morris to send a short
message there and then. He explained that it would be received by the Indian embassy and
would be delivered to Mr. Summerhayes. Morris obliged but he noted that Tiwari inspected it
carefully before asking the operator to transmit it. Morris explains that the detachment was
there to cover people coming and going over the Nangpa La, the principal gateway from Tibet
into this part of Nepal, with a special responsibility to be alert to Chinese infiltrators. That
night, reflecting on Tiwari's actions and general demeanor, Morris drew up a new code system
that would simply communicate that Everest had been climbed and by which members of the
team. He knew that if he sent the message "in clear," the whole world would know its
contents long before it reached London. He also knew that Tiwari would be reluctant to pass a
message that he could not understand. What was needed was a system of designation that
would allow Morris to convey the news in a way that looked intelligible but would mean
something different from what was written to the person who held the code. The new code
was dispatched to Kathmandu by runner the next morning.

Hillary and Tenzing summited Everest on May 29, 1953. They arrived back at advanced base
camp, well above the icefall, in the early afternoon of May 30 to give the news of their
successful summit to John Hunt and most of the rest of the climbing team. By chance, Morris
had come up to the camp that morning and was able to hear the news at first hand and join in
the celebrations. Later that afternoon, along with a member of the team, Mike Westmacott, he
left to descend through the icefall to return to base camp. Morris had done little climbing
before the expedition, and, as the light faded, he found it increasingly hard going. At one
stage he asked Westmacott to go ahead as he needed to rest. He was pulled back to his senses
by the sharpest of retorts from Westmacott: "Don't be so ridiculous!" Morris arrived back in his

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tent at base camp worn out. He took some time to recover from his exertions before he typed
out in code the most important message of his life: "snow conditions bad stop advanced base
abandoned on May 29 stop awaiting improvement stop all well." The next morning, May 31,
he gave the message to one of his runners with instructions to make best speed back to
Namche. It was handed to Mr. Tiwari at the checkpost on the morning of June 1 for
transmission by Morse code to the base station in the Indian embassy in Kathmandu on the
afternoon radio schedule. Late that afternoon a message was delivered to the British embassy,
signed by the vice consul at the Indian embassy, Mr. G. R. Joshi. The heading said: "Copy of a
Message received from COL HUNT, NAMCHE BAZAR on June 1, 1953." The message read:
"snow conditions bad hence expedition abandoned advance base camp on 29th and awaiting
improvement being all well." (The Indians, either at Namche or in the embassy, added the
bolded words presumably to make, as they thought, the message clearer.)

In the British embassy, Ambassador Summerhayes deciphered the message using the code,
which had been handwritten by Morris on The Times-headed notepaper at the camp above
Namche after he had first met Mr. Tiwari. The ten words transmitted to the Foreign Office in
London by secure telegraph are given in italics with the code in capitals: Mt Everest climbed
[SNOW CONDITIONS BAD] 29 May by Hillary [ADVANCED BASE ABANDONED] and Tenzing
[AWAITING IMPROVEMENT] All well. The information arrived in The Times newsroom in
time for the afternoon news conference. The layout of the next day's paper was suitably
planned. That evening the news was delivered to the Queen and Prince Philip at Buckingham
Palace. The final midnight news bulletin of the BBC Home Service reported the news and
every newspaper in the United Kingdom immediately changed its front page to carry the story.

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Hillary Advanced base abandoned"! and Tenzing ["Awaiting improvement"! on Everest, 1953.

Image: j^P

Thus, on the morning of June 2, 1953, the day of Queen Elizabeth's coronation at
Westminster Abbey, the news was on the streets to much rejoicing. That same morning,
having breakfast at a rest stop below Namche, as he headed back to Kathmandu as fast as he
could, James Morris caught a BBC news bulletin that declared that Everest had been climbed
and that "the news had been first announced in a copyright dispatch in The Times." John
Hunt and most of the team arrived back at base camp during the afternoon of June 2. That
evening in the mess tent the youngest member of the team, George Band, who two years later
with Joe Brown was to make the first ascent of Kanchenjunga, tuned in to All India Radio to
hearthat the news had been announced the previous evening and that the Queen and prime
minister had sent telegrams to the team via the ambassador in Kathmandu. There was much
rejoicing that the news had indeed reached London in time for the coronation. In his book,
John Hunt, with typical understatement, wrote: "Another jar of rum was called for"/

In their early days the Indian checkposts were probably reasonably effective in gathering low
level intelligence, but between 1950 and 1970 much changed in the field of intelligence
acquisition and particularly in the technique of aerial surveillance. Over the last few years of
their existence they became an embarrassment to Nepal and of increasingly limited use to
India, of more political and psychological value than anything else. In sum, they had served

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their time. In stark contrast, unlike in 1969 when a peremptory demand from the prime
minister, Kirti Nidhi Bista, gave Nepal what it was seeking on the checkposts, no such direct
approach is likely to work to Nepal's advantage on Lipu Lekh and Kalapani. Nor will engaging
China prove to be of much help. Whatever it might say now, China's position on Lipu Lekh is
badly compromised by all the MolJs and agreements it has signed unilaterally over many years
with India, and not just on trade, with no regard to Nepal's interests or sensitivities. On
Kalapani, China's consistent position has been that it is a matter for Nepal and India to
resolve.

India must know that no Nepali government is
ever likely to accept what is perceived to be India's
arbitrarily established border east of Lipu Lekh, but
presumably it considers Nepali rancor and
continuing protests on this as a price to be paid to
secure its position on Kalapani. Given the history
and the evidence from the maps, Lipu Lekh does
look a difficult case for Nepal to sustain, but even a
concession on this is unlikely to improve Nepal's
chances of regaining Kalapani. In India's mind,
both issues are indissolubly linked and intimately
tied to its larger unresolved border dispute with
China. Therefore, for India, the relative strength of
Nepal's case on both issues is of no
consequence. This is what makes the disputes so complex and intractable. The prospect is for
a long drawn-out process that is unlikely to give Nepal what it seeks, though some form of
palliative words may be agreed at a future stage of negotiation.

On a lighter note, the final word goes to the man, now a woman, who achieved one of the
greatest scoops any journalist could ever aspire to. Sitting in his tent at base camp, recovering
from his exertions through the icefall, as the words formed in his head, James Morris was well
aware that the series of dots and dashes the wireless operator at the Indian checkpost at
Namche was shortly to transmit to his embassy in Kathmandu would resonate round the
world: "I extracted my typewriter from a pile of clothing and propped it on my knees to write
a message. This was that brief dispatch of victory I had dreamed about through the months.
Oh, Mr. Tiwari at Namche and Mr. Summerhayes at Kathmandu! Oh, you watchful radio men
in Whitehall! Oh, telephone operators, typists and sub-editors, readers, listeners, statesmen,
generals, Presidents, Kings, Queens and Archbishops! I have a message for you!"

u In India's mind, both

issues are indissolubly
linked and intimately
tied to its larger
unresolved border
dispute with China.
Therefore, for India, the
relative strength of
Nepal's case on both
issues is of no
consequence.

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I am most grateful to Subhak Mahato for permission to use his photo of the Tinker Pass and to
Jamie McGuinness for permission to use his spectacular photo of the Urai Lekh Pass. My
thanks also to Jim Fisher for permitting me to use his photo of Malcolm Meerendonk and Dor
Bahadur Bista.

Cover photo: Looking north toward Nubri over the village of Setibas, the location of one
of the Indian checkposts. The three passes from Nubri into Tibet—Gya La, Lachen, and
Lachung—are located a five- to six-day walk away. Sam Cowan

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